MMLN – Coultas Works Quickly in B-Mets Win

Coultas was sharp in six innings of work

MANCHESTER, NH – It started off at a blistering pace, but Friday night's contest between Binghamton and the New Hampshire FisherCats developed into an extra-inning battle with the B-Mets emerging victorious after 13 innings. The B-Mets got off to a slow start, but one big positive to come out of the game was the effectiveness and stamina of new starter Ryan Coultas.

Ryan Coultas ran into a bit of trouble in the first inning when he walked the leadoff hitter, but he settled down afterwards and ultimately allowed two earned runs on seven hits with three strikeouts in six innings. It was the highest inning total of his three starts.

The right-hander's fastball was up and down the radar gun, ranging from 87 to 94 MPH, but he sat 91-93 and was able to generate a large number of swings and misses. Throughout the night, he relied heavily on his heater and changeup which he threw in the mid-70s. He used his breaking ball, which has good action and a long break, in a greater ratio in the early innings but as the innings wore on and the game stayed tight, Coultas used his top two pitches.

Perhaps the most positive development for Coultas was the confidence in which he threw his pitches and the pace with which he worked. He rarely shook off catcher Josh Thole and used his fastball in hitter's counts.

The sixth inning, his last, was his most impressive frame. After allowing a leadoff single, he induced a 5-4-3 double play. He proceeded to walk the next hitter on five pitches, but turn around and struck out the next hitter on five pitches to end the inning.

It was a very dreary night at the plate for Shawn Bowman who struck out three times and grounded into two double plays, but he began that pivotal sixth inning double play with a nifty charge and throw to second and a lightning quick turn by Matt Bouchard. He also showed off his big league arm in the third inning on a dribbler up the line that he charged and threw with a flawless delivery.

Matt Bouchard Is undergoing a dry spell at the plate, but he has brought his big league caliber defense to second base and twice saved runs for his club on Friday night. In the 8th inning, with a man on, Bouchard showed off his great leaping ability as he used all of his 6-feet to snare a line drive over his head.

With a man on first and second and one out in the bottom of the ninth, the game would have ended if not for Bouchard ranging deep to his right and stabbing the ball and getting the out at first. [Edgar Alfonzo retired the next hitter to send the game to extra innings].

What makes Bouchard such a capable infielder is his the direction of his first step. In both these instances he took the proper first step towards the outfield to the make the plays. Had he taken a lateral step, both balls likely would have passed him by. Its instincts like that, and his plus arm and speed around the second base bag, which make him a weapon with the glove.

Emmanuel Garcia's swing looks much better than this year than 2008. He has regained the bat speed he lost last season and is driving the ball with more authority. He will remain the same contact hitter, but he is incorporating his legs more which is giving him a better finish through the ball. That is what he lacked in 2008 which resulted in many weak ground balls and harmless pop ups.

Roy Merritt continued his impressive start by picking up his Eastern League-leading seventh save. Merritt, who had never pitched above A-ball is what is now his third season, is staying ahead of the opposition because of better fastball location. He never lacked the ability place his sweeping slider during his first two seasons, but control of his fastball on both sides of the plate has matured him into a more formidable reliever.

Look out for more coverage following tomorrow's Binghamton-New Hampshire game where other prospects not mentioned in today's notebook will be reviewed.

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